Review: BA Boeing 747 World Traveller Plus (Premium Economy)

22nd November 2016 2 Comments

Today I flew from London Heathrow to Miami with British Airways departing at 9:00am. The scheduled flight duration for this flight is 9 hours 50 minutes. I flew in the World Traveller Plus (Premium Economy) cabin, and as it was very quiet it was a great opportunity for me to take some photos and put together a comprehensive review of BA’s Premium Economy offering on the 747 that they operate on this route.

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The main advantage of flying World Traveller Plus is that you get more space per seat than in the Economy cabin. The seat pitch in World Traveller Plus is 38 inches and the width of each seat is 18.5 inches. To compare this to the Economy seats on the same aircraft, they have a pitch of 31 inches and a width of 17.5 inches, so the difference in leg room is noticeable.

Seat features

  • Cup holders on each armrest
  • Table that folds out of armrest – two options, either small size or full size. The table also slides forward and back so you have some control over where you want it.
  • Seat controls are in the armrest. Seats recline back as well as having a leg rest that is attached to the seat plus an additional foot rest at the bottom of the seat in front.
  • There is a remote control for in-flight entertainment in the opposite armrest along with a power port for laptops.
  • A coat hook is located on the back of the seat in front.
  • The screen is in the back of the seat in front and tilts (same as Economy).
  • You can also make calls in-flight using the back of the remote control which has a credit card slot for you to pay, although I didn’t use this.

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Catering

The drinks are typically served in plastic cups as in Economy, with the exception of a glass of Champagne that is served before you take off.

The main meal on this particular flight was breakfast. I was disappointed by this as breakfast is by far my least favourite meal on planes (to the point that I usually avoid it). I couldn’t face either of the hot meals but here’s what was on the tray:

  • Bottled water
  • Tea/coffee
  • Orange juice
  • Milk sachet
  • Yeo Valley raspberry yoghurt – this was tasty. BA can be good for some of the brands they choose as suppliers for in-flight snacks/extras on the tray.
  • Apple and sultana swirl – this was dry and tasteless.
  • Butter and strawberry jam for Danish? Not sure why this was there.
  • Fruit pot with melon, orange segment, apple segment, pineapple and red grapes. This tasted very fresh, which was nice.
  • The meal was served on plastic tray but with a proper napkin and metal cutlery.

The meals that were on offer were either a ‘Traditional English breakfast of scrambled eggs, tomato, mushrooms, free-range Cumberland pork sausage, Suffolk sweet-cured back bacon and hash-brown potatoes’ or ‘kedgeree arancini with poached eggs, spinach and curried Hollandaise’. Not my cup of tea.

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Just before landing, we were served a mini afternoon tea consisting of a Caesar chicken sandwich and a small scone with jam and cream. I thought this was nice but doesn’t strike me as being any different to what would be offered in Economy.

Cleanliness

I’d say generally it’s fairly clean, although because the plane is so old there are quite a few marks that possibly can’t be removed, which is somewhat unappealing…

Entertainment

On BA’s 747s this is much more limited than on other, more modern aircraft they operate such as the Dreamliner. The 747 entertainment system (along with old 777s) doesn’t seem to be updated very often. I also find it frustrating that when you go to the section to watch a series there are only odd episodes of a range of series available. I imagine this is to do with the older entertainment systems having a limited storage capacity.

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Cabin interior

I have to say, I’ve never been on a 747 that looks remotely modern – the first time I saw these furnishings was on my first long-haul flight around 15 years ago and it’s still the same, which is disappointing considering the cost of plane tickets and when you compare it to other aircraft BA have. I believe a lot of the 747s BA still has in service were bought in the late 1990s, making them almost as old as me! However, there are reports that the cabin interiors are going to be updated; hopefully sooner rather than later.

In-flight amenities

  • Noise-reducing headset – I like this a lot. I find the headphones in Economy are ill-fitting and hurt your ears and I’ve also had problems with volume control in Economy, whereas with proper headphones the sound quality is much better.
  • Plastic in-flight bag – this is pretty basic and there were quite a few rips in mine; you can tell it’s not very high quality. The bag includes: flight socks, pen, ear plugs, eye mask, toothbrush and toothpaste.

Summary

Overall, flying Premium Economy on BA’s 747 is a much nicer experience than flying Economy on the same plane, mainly due to the extra leg and seat room. I have to say, I don’t find there’s a huge amount of difference between the food offered in Premium Economy and Economy and to make it worse BA are now charging for snacks on long-haul flights, which seems a bit stingy. The dated interiors of BA’s older planes are an obvious downside, so if possible check your aircraft before you book your itinerary and if your timings are flexible I’d try and pick a newer plane, such as the Dreamliner or A380. The main downside for me of the older planes has to be the old entertainment systems, which are very basic. Having said that, I’m pretty much always impressed by the service on BA flights; the staff are friendly, efficient and very helpful if you need anything, which is a big part of choosing to fly with BA. It may be worth paying the extra money for the leg room if the price difference between Economy and Premium Economy is small, but I wouldn’t fork out thousands of pounds extra for it.